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Freshmen at St. Maria Goretti receive iPads to use in core classes throughout year

August 23, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Erin MacMullen, left, an incoming St. Maria Goretti freshman from Frederick, Md., finds her way around her new iPad Thursday afternoon during freshman orientation. At right is freshman Sierra Moore of Funkstown.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

IPads will be used this year by students in several core classes at St. Maria Goretti High School.

An iPad training camp was held Thursday afternoon for incoming freshman at orientation at the school, which is implementing its new iPad Classroom Initiative.

“Over the past four or five years, we’ve worked towards improving our technology,” St. Maria Goretti Principal Rich Fairley said. “We want to provide the opportunities for teachers and students to have additional tools.”

As part of the initiative, freshmen will receive an iPad, and they will be able to use it throughout the year in their core classes in multiple ways, including reading lectures, taking down assignments and doing homework.

“Given where technologies have gone, hand-held devices clearly are the wave of the future,” Fairley said. “Anybody who’s out there goes into a business meeting these days, and the first thing they do is open up their iPad or their tablet of some sort.”

Ryan Hellem, who is beginning his second year teaching social studies at the school, also will be the iPad coordinator. He will be responsible for helping implement new applications and programs into the classrooms, as well as help and support teachers and students using the iPads.

“Hopefully, this will prepare the students for what they’re getting ready to see in the future,” he said. “We’re allowing them to take responsibility for their learning using the iPad as part of that.”

The students also will set up school accounts on their iPad, where they can access grades and teacher assignments.

The program was established after the school was awarded a $28,000 grant from the Marion L. & Henry J. Knott Foundation to implement it, according to a foundation press release.

Bridget Scott, 14, of Hagerstown, will be going into her freshman year at Goretti, and she said the iPad combines what teenagers already are doing with what they are learning.

“It’s mixing something that we know and making learning more exciting,” she said. “Teenagers already use the technology. We have smartphones and use things like that.”

Other students who talked about carrying the iPad mentioned how it could replace textbooks for different subjects.

Grace Wroblewski, 14, of Waynesboro, Pa., also is going into her freshman year at the school, and said carrying fewer textbooks will be easier on the students.

“You won’t have a bunch of papers in your backpack and binder,” Wroblewski said. “You’ll just have everything on one thing.”

Anne Barton, who teaches biology and human anatomy and physiology, said she will use the iPad for assigning homework and lectures.

“This really puts the onus of responsibility on the student for at least the initial learning as opposed to the teacher just feeding knowledge,” she said. “It really helps the student become much more of an interactive learner.”

Another goal of the project is to reduce to use of paper. The school plans to create a “more environmentally conscious campus,” and with the iPads, more students can take notes digitally instead of using paper.

Kaitlyn Hevey of Hagerstown, who also will be a freshman at the school, said using an iPad will make things much simpler.

“We can take them wherever we want so we can work on homework and have it all on an iPad,” she said. “We can also keep all our notes on here, set alarms for exams and just use them to help us do better in school.”

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